Blues harmonica master and singer-songwriter Kyle Yardley is interviewed about his influences, why he loves the blues, favorite places to play, and much more.
What first got you into music?
My older brother had a drum set, guitar and bass guitar in his bedroom, when I was 9 years old he taught me how to play a drum kit. We would jam in the bedroom all the time after school and weekends.
Who are some of your influences?
My main influence as far as the harmonica goes is Junior Wells but I am influenced by Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson as well as a lot of blues guitarists like Albert King, Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush…as well as the more recent and younger musicians like Marquise Knox and Chicago’s late great Eric Guitar Davis … the list goes on and on.
What draws you to your preferred genre?
The blues! It’s the roots of all American music…rock, country, jazz, hip hop to metal…it all started with the blues. It is as raw and as emotional as music can be. The history, the emotions, I get mesmerized sometimes just listening to the blues. It is my passion.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I have been given a lot of good advice over the years from some of the best and most humble musicians I’ve ever meet,… always know your role on stage, be on time, never play over the vocals/solos. But the best advice I’ve been taught is to “Look the part, be the part, and always give 100 percent.”
We had a short, but powerful conversation, and that was it
How did you get your start in the Savannah music scene?
This is quite a long story. To make it short as possible, my mother and one of my younger brothers had moved here from southern Illinois in the early 2000’s. I would visit Savannah and fell in love with the city. I was coming to Savannah quite often between my gigs in St. Louis and sitting in with some of the local blues musicians such as Hitman and Eric Culberson. But what had sealed the deal was a call one day back in the Midwest I had received from Ray Lundy whom I meet at the former Bayou Cafe while he was filling in hosting the Tuesday night open mic. We had a short, but powerful conversation, and that was it.
I moved to Savannah in 2015 and formed a band as well as a relationship with many of the local musicians here and have been performing locally as well as small tours and blues festivals ever since.
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What was the craziest performance you ever had?
The craziest and probably the worst, ha ha. I was playing a winery in Illinois outdoors and it came a downpour during the first set. We all scrambled to cover our gear and took cover…so I thought. As I was sitting inside I noticed a big crowd around the stage so I peeked my head out the door and through the pouring rain I could see my guitarist and drummer having it out. The drummer packed his vintage Slingerland drum kit (soaked my the rain and the reason for his discontent) and left the gig.
Luckily we knew another drummer close by but he was out of town so after the storm had subsided our friend guided me over the phone to his house and spare key and let me take his kit to the gig where I finished the night singing behind the drum kit. That was a crazy night!
Name a Savannah artist you’d love to collaborate with, and why?
There are several. The one I most want to collaborate with is Ray Lundy. Mainly because we perform a lot of duo gigs together and it would be nice to have some music to pass on to the listeners that always ask if we have a CD of music online. It would be great though if all the blues musicians in Savannah would come together and put a compilation album together or maybe a blues festival featuring the local blues acts.
Everywhere I’ve performed in Savannah, the staff goes above and beyond to make the entertainers feel welcome and appreciated
What are some of your favorite local places to play?
My favorite is the Warehouse Bar and Grille. I love a good hole in the wall dive bar! Those are the best! Jazz’d Tapas Bar is always a great change of pace…a chance to relax. Rocks on the Roof is another. You can get a little loud and rowdy but still be refined. Everywhere I’ve performed in Savannah, the staff goes above and beyond to make the entertainers feel welcome and appreciated.
Your thoughts on the Savannah music scene …
It is a very diverse community with styles ranging from punk, classic country, classic rock, pop and hit music to funk, R&B and my favorite the blues. Plenty of live music venues in Savannah as well. A working musician can make a living here.
What’s next for you?
Well, I’ve already released three albums and it about time I start working on my next one. Like I stated earlier I would love to do some collaborations. We will see what the future holds, in the meantime I’ll keep booking gigs and playing the music I love.